ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ 41-7 victory against the Tennessee Titans Monday night at Highmark Stadium:
1. That’s what’s called doubling down on your status as a Super Bowl favorite.
How much did the Bills overwhelm the Titans?
Enough that Case Keenum took over for Josh Allen with 14 seconds left in the third quarter. That wasn’t long after Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill was sent to the bench because, well, what was the point?
How much did the Bills overwhelm the Titans? Enough that they only had to punt once, the first time this season. And enough that all of their last 20 wins have been by 10 or more points, dating back to 2020 and tying an NFL record set by the Chicago Bears from 1941 to ’42.
The Bills set the tone with a blowout win in their Sept. 8 season-opener against the Los Angeles Rams. On Monday night, the offensive fireworks continued. And the defense not only continued the pass-rushing dominance it showed against the Rams but also displayed it can exceptionally stout against the run.
And that wasn’t just any back. That was Derrick Henry, who has been one of the NFL’s best and has had his way with the Bills’ defense in recent years. Henry finished with a mere 25 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He was smothered the entire night by the Bills’ upgraded defensive front, led by Jordan Phillips. The one tackle and assist with which he was credited don’t come close to telling the full story. He did an exceptional job of occupying blockers to allow the linebackers and other defenders to make run stops.
2. Stuffing Derrick Henry only told part of the Bills’ remarkable defensive story in this game.
How about Jordan Poyer’s interception, off a tip by fellow safety Micah Hyde, that set up the third of three touchdown catches by Stefon Diggs? And how about Matt Milano’s interception and 43-yard return for a touchdown to make it 41-7 with 3:49 left in the third quarter?
The Bills harassed quarterback Ryan Tannehill for most of the night and eventually drove him out of the game late in the third quarter.
This defense is frighteningly strong and more than capable of taking the Bills the distance.
3. Stefon Diggs made certain the Bills didn’t feel the absence of injured No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis.
With Davis inactive due to an ankle injury, Diggs caught 12 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Despite having no other major pass-catching threat to require attention, the Titans had no answer whatsoever when it came to covering Diggs.
The Bills targeted Diggs 14 times, which made perfect sense because he consistently found space to operate whether he was working outside, inside, short or deep.
According to ESPN Stats Info, Diggs is the first player since Steve Smith (2007) with at least 250 receiving yards and
four receiving TDs in his team's first two games of a season.
4. I can’t believe I’ve gone this far into the column before mentioning that Josh Allen threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns.
That’s what’s called doubling down on your status as an MVP favorite. Allen worked with mostly a clean pocket, able to take his time to find Diggs and other open receivers. He showed considerable poise, proving for the second prime-time game in a row that he is more than capable of not allowing the national spotlight to get him overly hyped and cause him to make unforced errors.
5. Now, the not-so-great news for the Bills.
The game proved costly in terms of injuries. The scariest came late in the first half when cornerback Dane Jackson had his head and neck bent backward in a collision with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds as they converged on a tackle. Jackson was taken from the field by ambulance and transported to ECMC for evaluation of a neck injury. The Bills reported he was to have a CT scan and X-ray, and that Jackson had full movement in his extremities.
Milano left the game with a stinger, Hyde with a neck injury, and Phillips with an injured hamstring.
The Bills have a short week of preparation before traveling to Miami to face the 2-0 Dolphins Sunday.